Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Bokonon, Dog Wonder

One of my biggest pet peeves (and yes, I do have a lot of them, and pun intended) is when people compare my children to their pets.  As a new mom with a lot of single/non-mom friends, I remember complaining about how little sleep I was getting because I was up nursing every two hours (I’m sure this was annoying to my single/non-mom friends), and someone would always say, “Oh, I know!  My dog was up three times scratching at the door!” or “My cat kept jumping on my face because she wanted to play!”  
Yeah, not the same thing.  In my five years of mothering, I have never put my child in an upstairs bedroom or in the backyard because he was being a nuisance to guests.  I have never left out a bowl of water and food for the day.  I have never left him for a week to go on vacation and paid the neighbor girl to check on him three times a day.  Children and pets are not the same.

I have only owned two dogs in my life.  The first was a pound puppy dachsundish mutt named Yankee (after the greatest baseball team of all time, of course).  Yankee was a gift from my parents after several years of swearing I would take care of him.  He lived with us for a few years, and after eating the tires off the lawnmower and the rubber stoppers off the the feet of my dad’s ladder, Yankee retired with a nice country family.  I was sad for about six minutes and then realized I didn’t have to feed, walk, or scoop anymore and got over it.
When Will was a baby, he was TERRIFIED of dogs.  We started talking about getting a puppy to get him used to dogs, so he didn’t turn into a demon-possessed banshee every time a dog barked at him.
Grandpa Johnson is a veterinarian, so Will ended up with a silkie for his second birthday after discussing our requirements for the dog: must be hypo-allergenic, can not shed, and can not weigh more than ten pounds.  Grandpa named him Bullitt.  First of all, I hate names that are not spelled correctly.  Secondly, that sounds like a doberman’s name, not a silkie’s name.  And lastly, I had been waiting to name another dog since Yankee was shipped off to the farm.
So, Bullitt became Bokonon, named after the leader of a fake religion in Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle (think Jesus, but fictional and funnier).  Without fail, every child that enters our house calls him Pokemon, and most of the adults can’t remember his name, so they just call him Bo or Boca.

Bokonon spent the first year of his life daring me to kill him.  He peed and pooped on the Turkish rug under the dining room table constantly to the point that I threw it out because no matter how much steaming I did (like daily, on my knees, steaming), I could still always smell piss.  
He attacked frogs like it was his job, dragging them through the house and leaving them for me to find next to my shoe rack, behind the bathroom door, or (the worst!) in Will’s closet mixed in with the toys.  (Do you hear that sound?  Yeah, that’s me dry-heaving.)  
Oh--and then there was the time when Will was potty training, and we were letting him run around naked in my parents’ backyard.  Will got a little confused about what kind of pottying was okay for outside, and before we could stop him, he was dropping a deuce in the flower  bed.  Actually kind of funny until Bokonon decided to eat it.  (More dry-heaving.)
The thing that made me want to become one of those people who kick dogs was when I would wake up in the morning and step out of bed onto piles of my dirty underwear.  Sometime in the night, he would sniff around the laundry basket and find every pair I’d worn in the last week and then build a little panty nest to sniff and lick, which is gross in and of itself, but I was reminded of his panty raids all day long--every time he licked my leg or one of the kids or the kitchen floor.  
His frog-juice-kid-crap-vaginal-fluid saliva was all over the place.  And it was all I could think about.  (My husband thinks I’m being dramatic about this, and consistently allows the dog to lick his ankles--he’s one of those people who gives you that line about how clean dogs’ mouths are.)  But I am not being dramatic, right?  This is effing gross.
So, needless to say, my relationship with Bokonon was tentative at best.  I was trying my hardest to love him, but let’s be real.  If he was a person, I would NEVER have been his friend.  I mean, I did have a couple of friends in college who peed on things when they were really, really drunk, and I stayed friends with them, but that’s different.  It wasn’t daily, and generally speaking they would clean or replace any peed-on items.  Bokonon has not replaced my Turkish rug.  He hasn’t even offered.
So, I am stuck with this animal because all of the boys (who also pee all over everything in my house) love him.  I have been overruled.  And even though I want to cry every time he runs out the door and won’t come back (always, always, always when we’re already running late), I am trying to be a big girl.
So, I started trying to come up with reasons I LIKE Bokonon, and here’s what I’ve come up with:
  1. He doesn’t pee or poop in the house anymore (after TWO years of potty-training).
  2. He is really, really smart.  I can hide his toys (when I get tired of playing), and he always finds them.
  3. He is a typical terrier, very territorial in nature, so if we ever get burgled by a gnome or something of similar stature, Bokonon will be a great guard dog and tear that gnome to shreds.
  4. My feet are always cold, and he’s about the size of a very compact mohair blanket.
Bokonon and I are learning to love one another one day at a time.  I even let him sit in my lap sometimes (always after a bath, never when he’s been rolling in ant piles in the backyard).  I actually enjoy brushing his hair out (again, after a bath), and don’t mind when he lays next to me, cuddled up while I play on the floor with the boys.  And he does have a really sweet face.  And when the boys are in bed and I’m up late writing, he’s always willing to listen to me read out loud (I won’t run this one by him).


  1. I'll be surprised if dog-lovers don't crucify you, but I loved this post. I'm always trying to love my dogs too. My daughter gave me a dog for my birthday (thanks a lot), and the other dog is hers. We live downstairs from my daughter and her dog came to live with us because she wanted to be with MY dog. So now I have TWO dogs when I really wanted, oh let's see: none.

    Now my daughter's cat lives with us because he got into a terrible fight with her other cat and won't go upstairs. So, now I have two dogs and a CAT!

  2. @Belle, bring it on, dog lovers! Just like my profile says, I'm trying my best. My MIL has warned us multiple times that (especially after being married to a veterinarian) animals are NEVER appropriate gifts.

  3. Re: comparing pets to kids, I agree. Not that I have a child, but dogs aren't kids, and unless a person has a kid of his own, I don't think it's fair to compare. Don't get me wrong, I love dogs, but they aren't children.

    I am Fickle Cattle.